VENDORS of live and dressed chicken in public markets in Negros Occidental, particularly Bacolod City, were already experiencing weak sales even before the declaration of bird flu outbreak in San Luis town, Pampanga.

Jesusa Togle, a vendor at Libertad Market, Monday, August 14, said the demand for the commodity is normally low during the lean period, starting the late part of May towards August.

Togle said most vendors are now mainly relying on their few “suki” or regular buyers, not on individual consumers.

“Bird flu outbreak may just have triggered the lower consumption, but not absolutely the reason,” she said.

Aldrin Alibuga, a vendor at Central Market, said they are having a hard time selling their stocks as the demand for the commodity is very weak.

“Whether there is a bird flu outbreak or not, lower consumption is really low especially in the month of August,” he said.

The vendors said there was no movement in the prices of dressed and live chicken since the first week of the month.

Average price of live native chicken remains at P200 to P250 per head depending on the size and weight while dressed chicken currently costs P145 per kilogram.

On Sunday, the Department of Agriculture (DA) issued the banning of fowl shipment from Luzon to other parts of the country, including Negros Occidental, amid the outbreak in the province of Pampanga.

Provincial Veterinarian Renante Decena said that low consumption is expected especially during the outbreak since most people are not aware that the animal disease is only confined within a municipality in Luzon.

“Negrenses should remember that Negros is not Pampanga, and that there is nothing to worry about,” he said.

He added that the recent reduction in the price of dressed chicken in the province is not yet attributed to the bird flu outbreak.

“This is mainly because of intra-provincial movement of the commodity, we have yet to wait for the new price monitoring next week,” Decena said.

In a press conference in Quezon City Monday, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said about 25,000 fowls have already been culled since Sunday.

Piñol said Assistant Secretary Enrico Garzon on same day issued Memorandum Circle No. 9 series of 2017 amending the previous order temporary banning the movement of live, domestic and wild birds and their products including poultry meat, day-old chicks, eggs, semen, and manure from Luzon to Visayas and Mindanao.

Decena reiterated that the Philippines is archipelagic and many animal checkpoints are being conducted as quarantine procedures thus, it is unlikely for the virus to easily enter the province.

Decena also said that the province is not sourcing out chicken from Pampanga or any part of Luzon as it is currently surplus in supply.

“Our structure and staff are capable of preventing the entry of bird flu. However, necessary precautionary measures should still be implemented,” he said.

He added that the province is deficit in eggs thus, “we will make sure that supply coming from affected areas in Luzon should not enter Negros Occidental.” (with reports from Teresa D. Ellera/Julie Ann T. Gonzales)